Broadband performance data explained

Our Measuring Broadband Australia (MBA) program publishes accurate, independent and comparable data about broadband speeds and performance.

How are MBA speeds calculated?

The MBA program relies on households across Australia volunteering to receive a Whitebox, which tests the speeds of their fixed-line broadband services.

The MBA speeds are direct measures of what our volunteers can achieve over their connections when downloading and uploading data.

We run hundreds of thousands of speed tests and then calculate the average speeds achieved for different volunteer groups, such as volunteers on the NBN and volunteers still on ADSL.

NBN speeds by internet service provider

We group results by internet service provider (ISP) and narrow that down to the specific retail plan when there are enough volunteers to do so.

Some volunteers will experience better or worse speeds than the average even if they are on the same retail plan.

The results show how close on average the ISP gets to the full speed of its various retail plans, which is why these results are presented as percentages.

The more often a volunteer can achieve speeds closer to the full speed, the higher the MBA speeds for the ISP will be, and vice versa.

See: Comparing MBA speeds - example

NBN speeds in busy times / the whole day

We highlight speeds for the busy evening hours between 7pm and 11 pm. This time period reflects the speeds consumers are likely to achieve when most consumers are using their service.

We also show speed results for the 'busiest hour’ of testing as well as for the whole day.

The main factor that affects these speed results is the amount of capacity that an ISP has installed in its network (including capacity it has purchased over the NBN).

Busiest hour

The busiest hour speed measure roughly indicates the lowest speeds recorded over a thirty day test period during the busiest time for each ISP.

To ensure this measure does not include out of the ordinary events that may distort the results, we use the fifth busiest hour over the entire test period.

A higher busiest hour percentage could mean that web applications are more likely to run to an acceptable quality even when the ISP network is under significant stress. However, this is a single hourly measure with fewer test results to calculate it, so the margin of error will be a little higher than other results.

The whole day

The average speeds achieved across the whole day will typically be higher than the busy hour speeds, as ISPs may need to ration capacity across their networks due to high demand during the busy hours.

The greater the difference between the average speeds over the whole day and the busy hour speeds, the more likely it is that the ISP relies on rationing its network capacity during high demand periods rather than delivering full speeds to its customers.

Underperforming services

The ISP speed dials on the broadband performance data page show a shaded area with a percentage figure directly underneath. The shaded area indicates the boost to average speed if services not able to achieve maximum plan speeds were excluded from the overall results. This boost is calculated by excluding test results made over poorer quality connections to the NBN. That is, we remove results for volunteers who never come close to achieving the full speeds of their selected plan at any time of the day.

Underperforming services impact on the overall results of the MBA program. For example, some customers who are on an FTTN connection with a plan speed of 50 megabits per second or faster presently receive much less than the full speed of their plan even outside the busy hours. This can be due to a localised problem at the customer’s house which can be relatively easy to resolve, while in other cases more complex work in the NBN network is required.

Improving connection problems to boost MBA results

An ISP can improve its MBA results by resolving connection problems for its customers. It can also offer an affected customer an alternative plan with a speed closer to what the customer’s connection can support, which we would expect to be at a lower price.

We suggest speaking with your ISP if you are affected to see what can be done to fix your connection or compensate you for the reduced speeds that are available to you until the connection problem can be fixed.

Comparing MBA speeds - example

If ISP1 records an MBA busy hour download measure of 85 per cent and ISP2 records 80 per cent, this means, on average ISP1 has download speeds that are 5 percentage points closer to full plan speed than ISP2 when viewed over all of the busy hours.

This would not necessarily mean that the download speeds of ISP1 and ISP2 are always 5 percentage points apart for each busy hour. It could be that for a large number of the busy hours, the speeds are actually quite similar, while in the remaining busy hours – which might be the particular hours that you want to use high speed applications on your NBN service – the speeds offered by ISP1 are significantly faster than those offered by ISP2.

The table below presents a set of results for each busy hour in a simplified example where there are four busy hours in the test period to illustrate this:

 

ISP1

ISP2

Busy Hour 1

100%

100%

Busy Hour 2

90%

90%

Busy Hour 3

80%

80%

Busy Hour 4

70%

50%

MBA speed measure

85%

80%

In the example, the speeds in the last busy hour for ISP1’s download speeds are actually 20 percentage points higher than those of ISP2, even though when averaged over all four busy hours the difference is only 5 percentage points.

More information

Monitoring broadband performance

Apply to be a testing volunteer